When Stargate: Atlantis fan (and blog regular) Jeff first told me he’d be in town for business, I offered him a few suggestions on dining locations. While I would have loved to join him for dinner, his visit happened to coincide with the rewrite on this SF miniseries Paul and I are working on. It’s a tight turnaround (it goes to camera in about a month!) so I figured I’d be spending quality time with my laptop. But, as it turned out, I had a window of opportunity when Paul took the script off my hands. So, the other day, after running some errands, I met up with Jeff for a tour of some of Vancouver’s newest food trucks. Our multi-course lunch went something like this…
Nice meeting you, Jeff. Next time I’m in Chicago, you lead.
Continuing our trip down SGA memory lane, we conclude season one…
SIEGE I (119)
Like most Martin Gero episodes, this one has a nice balance of humor, character development, and arc-driven elements to satisfy the die-hard fan. The wraith are on their way to Atlantis and, while Sheppard scrambles to find a suitable planet they can relocate to, McKay leads a team to an Ancient weapons outpost in a bid to bring it back online and use it to target one of the three enemy hive ships. By this point in the season, the McKay/Zelenka rivalry has finally attained the snappy, back-and-forth dynamic that will serve as a model for the ensuing four season’s worth of one-upmanship. Here, Radek tries to convince Rodney not to risk his unnecessarily, and he does so by playing to his ego. Rodney, however, turns the tables on Radek and dismisses the obvious concern by needling him. The subtext is clear. These two guys are concerned for each other but their egos went let them admit it.
Sheppard has no luck locating a safe haven for the expedition, at one point being chased back to Atlantis by a creature resembling a T-Rex. The fact that we, the audience never get to see the creature was a running gag for a while – so, in SGU’s first season episode, Lost (not so coincidentally written by Martin Gero), a team encounters a dinosaur off-world. And, this time, you can bet we see it.
At one point, Teyla hits Bates because she is offended by his accusations. Even Sheppard bristles at the suggestion that Teyla may have been compromised. And yet, when you think about it, Bates has a point. In fact, he makes it clear – he’s not accusing her of knowingly aiding the wraith. He’s simply pointing out that, based on past experience, it might be wise to exercise caution. Teyla may have found his opinion insulting, but it was a sound one and SHE was out of line hitting him – Sheppard just as guilty in not taking his own advice dispensed in the previous episode. He allows emotion to overrule logic in a potential life or death situation.
In addition to all this, we lose a member of the expedition in shocking fashion, and Atlantis takes in another wraith – who Sheppard nicknames Bob before blowing him away. It’s dark, yes, and Ford is clearly uncomfortable as John shoots the prisoner but this is Sheppard at his ambiguous best.
SIEGE II (120)
We pick up where the last episode left off. All hope seems lost. Weir gives the order to wipe the Ancient database, start the countdown to the self-destruct, and abandon Atlantis when – she receives word that someone is dialing in. It’s Stargate Command. And they’re sending reinforcements. So begins an action-packed season finale whose high points, for me, were its marvelous visuals and “No! Don’t end it there!” ending. The friction between Colonel Everett and, well, everyone else makes for interesting drama but the action comes so fast and furious in this episode that there really isn’t opportunity for those quieter, occasionally humorous, character moments that really ground an episode. For that reason, as much as I like the pacing and pandemonium of this episode, I have to tip my hat to Martin Gero for his work on Siege I. And, while I’m at it, I mentioned those fantastic battle sequences so a big “Thanks again!” to VFX Supervisor Mark Savela and the rest of the VFX team for their amazing ability to outdo themselves year after year.
Finally, I love a good cliffhanger (provided there’s an opportunity to come back and finish things off) and this one was a beauty. I could well imagine the collective sigh of frustration when the end credits came up onscreen and viewers at home realized they would have to tune in…next season.
And so ends my reminiscing on Atlantis’s first season. All all, a pretty solid season. Any first season of any series is going to have the occasional dud episode (I’ve termed this “The Emancipation Effect”) but, aside from Sanctuary, I have to say Atlantis was fairly good in that respect. There were a few episodes that while enjoyable, still prove somewhat problematic for me on some levels (mainly because I’m wearing my writer/producer hat when I watch them). But these episodes are far outweighed by the standouts. In my mind: Rising I and II, Poisoning the Well, The Storm, The Eye, The Defiant One, Before I Sleep, and Siege I.
So, what do you all think? Which episodes stood out for you in SGA’s first season?
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Finally, Cookie Monster would like to remind everyone that the Supermovie of the Week Club reconvenes tomorrow when we’ll be discussing Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie. Here’s a little something to whet your appetite.
You can check out all of Cookie Monster’s movie reviews here: Film reviews by resident film critic Cookie Monster